23rd Independence Day of Eritrea
By: Senait Maekele
Members of the Eritrean community of Denver along with friends of Eritrea joined together to celebrate the 23rd Independence of our beloved country. The night was filled with political speeches, food, music, and dancing. Special singers included Tesfai & Tekil from Denver, Colorado, Kidane Woldemariam from Las Vegas, Nevada and Habtom Hidrom as well from Denver, Colorado.
This Independence Day, the Denver community was able to have political leaders of the State of Colorado to attend celebration. These attendees included Congressman Mick Coffman, Andrew Romanoff,- former Speaker of the House, Dr. Barbara S. Banister– Chief Community Relations of City of Aurora, Anthony E. Graves– Director of Regional Affairs Office of the Mayor of City & County of Denver, Naquetta Ricks- Democratic candidate of District 6, and many representatives from Palestine, South Sudan and Ghana communities.
Congressman Mick Coffman
The program was led by Gebrhewiot Tekle of the National Holiday Committee. Speeches in behalf of the community were given by Mr. Stegai Habteyeses of PFDJ and Senait Maekele of YPFDJ. Both speeches delivered separate messages but both emphasized highly on President Isaias Afwerki’s speech regarding the progression of the constitutiondrafting process. It was especially crucial for our non-Eritrean guest and youth to hear this message. Eritrea is continuing to progress in every possible way as Eritrea progress forward to achieve sustainable growth.
Mr. Andrew Ramanoff
Both distinguished guests Coffman and Mr. Romanoff spoke to Ibrhaim Idris, head of the Eritrean Public Diplomacy, where Mr. Ramanoff expressed appreciation of the President’s statement and reassured the promise to work closely with the community leaders.
Ibrahim Idris with Congressman Coffman outreaching for more engagements & public diplomacy.
Dr. Barbra S. Banister
Congressman Coffman’s speech to the community included a comparison between the Eritrean people and the American people’s struggle in terms of colonization & independence. As he showed great depth of understanding of the struggle we had as Eritreans regarding the occupation during the Italians, British, and Ethiopians. He reiterated his desire to visit Eritrea. His statement was highly welcomed with cheers and applause from the audience.
Mr. Anthony E. Graves greeting Dr.Cobina Lartson the founder & CEO of Afrikmall of Aroura.
Anita Sanborn president of Colorado Episcopal Foundation with leader Achol Abyei from the South Sudan community in Denver.
Other special guests included three male and three female marathon athletes who had made the journey from Eritrea to America to run in numerous races. They will part take in the BolderBoulder Race on Monday, May 26. Community members plan on attending this special race and support our athlete’s. Their next stop will be in San Diego, California.
Tadiwos Serika of YPFDJ stated the “Presence of these athletes was especially important because it showed the bond between the youth in the Diaspora and the youth in Eritrea.” To be able to celebrate in unison with these athletes was a proud moment for the entire community. The community accepted these athletes with open arms and provided them with non-monetary and monetary support. This was a true example of Eritrean solidarity strong culture.
“Hidri” group also played a successful role in the evening. Guests observed dances from multiple ethnic groups. Martha Tekle of Hidri said “For me, performing on Independence Day is keeping the culture alive and embracing it. It’s important for us to have the cultural ties to Eritrea even though we live in America.”
Attendees from the Eritrean Kunama ethnic group even made an impact on the evening by getting on stage and performing a song together. It was special to see the growing population of Kunama people make a significant impression on the night.
The following day, community members from all ages, gathered again to continue the celebration. Young children played in bouncing castles, while the youth had a competitive match of volleyball. The women gathered in a Hedmo (white tent) mingling about last night’s festivities over a cup of coffee. The men of the community reminisced of their time in Eritrea and the future of the country.
Tekle Kelete of PFDJ said “It’s a remarkable thing to see new faces. It seems like the President’s speech has already had an impact on the community at large.” There was a noticeable wave of new faces that came out for the Independence Day festivities.
The attendance and support from this weekend’s events was a true testament of the progression of not only Eritrea but the Denver community at large as well.